Are there Takayama descendants in the Philippines today?
When their patriarch, Lord Justo Takayama Ukon died on Feb. 3, 1615, the Spanish Governor General, Juan de Silva, was worried about the future of Takayama’s family who remained as houseguests of the Philippine Jesuits at their “Casa San Miguel” in Intramuros.
He offered a royal pension to the widow, Dona Justa Takayama. But she declined the offer. The family will be alright, she said. She had other plans.
Mrs. Justa Takayama, returned to Japan in the first semester of 1616 with her daughter, Lucia Yokoyama, and her eldest grandchild – a development reported on July 18, 1616 by the Jesuit Vice Provincial Jeronymo Rodriguez, SJ.
She had brought a finger bone of Ukon to be buried on home soil in Kanazawa. By tradition, the eldest son of the Takayama family in Kanazawa – there is an unbroken line to this day — is tasked to care for the memorial in a nearby forested area where a concrete cross has been erected.
Ukon’s daughter, Lucia Yokoyama, returned to her husband, Yokoyama Daizen Yasuharu (1590-1645), a general of the Maeda clan in Kanazawa after a 28-month separation. According to the Yokoyama family tree, Baron Yokoyama remarried in 1624 – this time, to a daughter of Imaeda Nimbu Naotsune — which indicates that by that year, Ukon’s daughter Lucia had passed away.
It appears that the four other Takayama grandchildren had joined the Japanese Christian community in San Miguel district, which was also a Jesuit parish.
Ambassador HASEKURA Rokuemon Tsunenaga (支倉六右衛門常長, 1571-1622), a retainer of Lord Date Masamune, daimyo of Sendai, who led the first Japanese embassy to Europe (1582-1590), stopped over in Manila from June 1618 to August 1620 on his return home to Japan. He recalls seeing a grandson of Takayama dressed as a foppish Spanish grandee. Instead of wearing traditional Japanese clothes, the young millennial preferred to don Spanish-style garments.
In a letter dated Oct. 6, 1621, Fr. Johannes Battista Porro, SJ, writes that Mrs. Takayama, using the name Rocuzaimon – (Rokuzayemon?) — had settled in far-away Oita Prefecture. Her other grandchildren returned to Japan in 1621 but preferred to proceed to Sakai City. This is the same year Manila Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano, OESA, reported to the king of Spain that there are “more than 1,500 [Japanese] Christians … in Santiago, and in the villages of Dilao [the first Japan town] and San Miguel [the district reserved for Japanese exiles] — but this was not a fixed population “because the [Japanese] are a people who go to and fro” to Japan.
In 1802, the Takayama family in Oita Prefecture erected a memorial tombstone for Takayama Ukon at the Oita city cemetery. (Note that in 1802, Christianity was still officially proscribed with the death penalty. But nevertheless, the Takayama family proclaimed their descent from Takayama Ukon.) Eimei Takayama, a former mayor of Oita made the claim in an English pamphlet that was widely distributed in Manila during the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress.
Today it is known that there are descendants of Takayama Ukon in Kanazawa, Noto, Oita, Sakai – and in one case we know of, in Tokyo too. With the mobility of the Japanese population in the past 400 years, other Takayama descendants may be in other cities as well. During the Beatification Rites at Osaka in 2017, two Takayama descendants — from “near Kanazawa” – attended the religious event.
By Dr. Ernie A. De Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation